Sockeye Summer Rolls On

The likelihood of additional days for Lake Wenatchee sockeye “looks promising,” but fishery managers won’t know for sure until after a teleconference tomorrow, Aug. 4, according to a local biologist.

Meanwhile, fisheries for the state’s rarest salmon continue in the upper Columbia River and in Northwest Washington.

So far anglers have caught just over 700 sockeye on Lake Wenatchee through the first two days of the three-day season at the Chelan County water. Fishing is open through one hour after sunset tonight.

AREA ANGLER RYAN WALKER WITH HIS LIMIT OF SOCKEYE FROM LAKE WENATCHEE. (RYAN WALKER)

“I’ve got 33 in three days, so it’s pretty good,” Ryan Walker of Plain emailed early this afternoon. “We killed it this morning with 13 in two hours, three tail punched we threw back. Yesterday a.m. it was a bit slow, but we picked up two new anglers with empty cards and an afternoon bite came on where we hooked seven and landed four in an hour.  Lots of good places to catch them.  We usually head to the west end for photos hoping to see Glacier, but it’s in the smoke today.”

State fisheries biologist Chad Jackson said that as of last Sunday, Aug. 1, a total of 27,240 sockeye had gone over Tumwater Dam 24 miles below the lake, 4,000 more than are needed to meet the spawning escapement goal.

Despite Walker’s creel, he termed the catch so far “a little bit lower than normal,” pointing to the Sunday opening, thunderstorms in the area that also helped to snuff out wildfires, and good fishing and larger limit at the mouth of the Okanogan River, Brewster Pool and below Wells Dam.

That’s where Bill Herzog and son River spent three days whacking and stacking, using a variety of gear, including the “Rasticle.”

Anton Jones of Darrell & Dad’s Guide Service (866-360-1523) suggests “tandem 3/0 red hooks baited with shrimp chunks that have been cured in Pautzke’s Fire Cure. Fish this behind a Worden’s Lures 00 chrome or Chrome scale dodger.”

“The trick here to get into that 10 percent of anglers that catch 90 percent of the fish is to add a Mack’s Lures smile blade and stack bead in front of the lead hook.  Additionally, pay attention to your depth finder.  Look where the fish are concentrated and hammer those areas.  Run your gear just above them,” Jones tips.

MIKE BYRD AND FRIENDS FROM SELAH HEFT A MIGHTY STRINGER OF UPPER COLUMBIA SOCKEYE. (DARRELL & DAD'S GUIDE SERVICE)

There’s sockeye to be had on the Westside too. Baker Lake’s been producing for anglers such as Chuck and Robert Spani of Lynnwood.

“I hope they run this every year,” Chuck emailed this morning.

SCOTT KELLY, AN UNIDENTIFIED ANGLER, TOD KERTZ AND ROBERT SPANI IN FRONT OF MT. BAKER WITH THEIR SOCKEYE. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

Spani says he’s fished the area between Noisy and Silver Creeks, on upper Baker’s dogleg right, in water 125 to 180 feet deep.

“Trolling a dodger and pink mini squid on one side and a dodger and pink wee Dick Nite on the other,” he says. “Stacking the riggers at 55 and 75 feet got it done.”

More pics of Spani’s day can be found on Gamefishin.

Baker is open until further notice.

“We’re still putting fish in the lake,” says district fisheries biologist Brett Barkdull. “We’re approaching 10,000.”

A very rough estimate puts the catch around 2,000 since fishing opened July 22.

However, Barkdull’s sense is there has been more phone calls than actual turnout. On days he’s personally fished Baker, there’s never been more than 100 boats, he says.

Early on, he was doing well with dodgers and a variety of pink hoochies, but things have become tougher, at least for him.

“The real biters have been put on barbecues at this point,” he alleges.

Fortunately for fishermen, few of the biters have been bull trout, which are off limits for retention.

Barkdull says the season was a “test,” and as long as there’s enough sockeye beyond the 2,500 needed for escapement, he says fisheries could be held in future summers.

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